hypothetical situation-- expired car seat question - Mothering Forums

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Old 09-15-2009, 11:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, so I really hope I don't get flamed for this, but it's an honest question... I'm not trying to be snarky

If a family had to choose between an expired/used carseat (never been in an accident) or no carseat at all, wouldn't using an expired carseat be safer (if they were using it correctly, of course)?

My question comes from two places, really. The first is that not that long ago, I saw a mama carrying her infant around in a carseat that had to be 20 years old. Now no way was this car seat safe. It didn't even have a 5 point harness. Just 4 straps that met at the chest in a buckle... so no crotch strap. Plus the baby was too big for the seat AND the straps were loose. Now I know she was using it as a carseat and not just a carrier because she was dropping her child off at school and carried the baby out to the car in this thing.

The other place this comes from is the "destroy your carseat before throwing it away" thread.

I completely understand how unsafe it is to use a damaged carseat. So that is not what I'm talking about. I'm also not really talking about the situation of the baby in a 20 year old carseat. What I'm talking about is a family, who for whatever reason can't get a carseat. Would it be safer for them to use a seat that is, say a couple years expired but otherwise in decent condtion... or no carseat at all?

ETA: I know there are charity orgs that can help with carseats... that's why this is hopefully a purely hypothetical situation. But maybe there are families out there who don't have access even to charity donated carseats.

mommy to Christopher 2/29/08
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Old 09-15-2009, 11:46 AM
 
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I would think (as a regular person, not tec or anything) that a properly fitting carseat that is 2-3yrs past exp. date is doable. Decades old or one that just doesn't fit, I wouldn't. Though I guess it also depends on the age. With an infant I would say anything is better than nothing. But I guess you then work with the assumption that being seriously injured is better than death.

I did work a church yardsale where there was a carseat from 1985! - quickly tossed out.

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Old 09-15-2009, 11:52 AM
 
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something is better than nothing.
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Old 09-15-2009, 12:01 PM
 
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I think it depends, and unfortunately the things it depends on you can't always know.

Something is better than nothing in some cases, but in other cases the something can be worse.

Added to that, you have to factor in the effects of false security.

I don't think that "something is better than nothing" is a good enough answer, really. Every child that rides in a car should be restrained in a safe seat.

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Old 09-15-2009, 12:03 PM
 
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvCRz7BRAM0

This is a 10-year-old (so four years expired) Britax. The straps rip out of the shell and strangle the dummy.

Is this likely to happen the week after the printed expiration date? Probably not. Do we know exactly when between six and ten years this happens? No, we don't.

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Old 09-15-2009, 12:06 PM
 
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I will agree that all other things being equal 'something IS better than nothing'.

However, it's a total strawman. There are a plethora of options for people who cannot afford a safe seat. There is SOMETHING out there. It might take a little research to find it, but it's out there.

As a parent, I would shut off the cable, the internet, the cell phones, etc, before my kids would ride unsafely in the car, so there is that to consider as well.

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Old 09-15-2009, 12:18 PM
 
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I think that the actual date of expiry has to err on the side of caution, to protect the manufacturer. Like if the expiry date is six years, the seat will actually be good for 7 or 8. Because if it was actually good for six years, they would make the expiry five years just to cover their butts.

So in a dire situation I would be willing to use an expired seat for several months (NOT years) after expiry if I needed to save up for a new seat or something. But ideally I would know in advance and be able to save up beforehand.

If we couldn't get another seat we would borrow, take public transport, or just stay home. I think the "can't afford it" reason is just an excuse for many, many people. They just don't put carseat safety high on their list, and that is that. We would be cutting off all of the utilities and eating ramen before my kid would be improperly restained in a moving vehicle. I know there are some truly dire situations out there, but there are organizations to help those people. Most people are given gifts from family and friends when expecting a baby - if money is that tight, a carseat (or donations towards a carseat) should be much higher on the list than a baby bathtub, bumbo chair, or even a crib. When there are $50 carseat options, where there is a will, there is a way.

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Old 09-15-2009, 01:29 PM
 
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If we couldn't get another seat we would borrow, take public transport, or just stay home. I think the "can't afford it" reason is just an excuse for many, many people. They just don't put carseat safety high on their list, and that is that. We would be cutting off all of the utilities and eating ramen before my kid would be improperly restained in a moving vehicle. I know there are some truly dire situations out there, but there are organizations to help those people. Most people are given gifts from family and friends when expecting a baby - if money is that tight, a carseat (or donations towards a carseat) should be much higher on the list than a baby bathtub, bumbo chair, or even a crib. When there are $50 carseat options, where there is a will, there is a way.
I think that some people really aren't understanding the position that people who "can't afford" a new car seat are in.

Some of these families may already be eating ramen, beans and rice, and going without utilities for a few days just to be able to pay rent without scrounging up an extra $50 for a carseat.

Some people don't get "big" gifts from family members when we're expecting a baby, some don't even get baby showers. $50-$70 can be a weeks worth of groceries, a weeks worth of gasoline to get to and from work.

I live in an area where there really isn't a lot of help finding a free/low-cost car seat.
You can get a voucher through the courts if you're caught violating the child passenger laws, or you can get a free seat if you show up at certain car seat inspections, but neither are really easily accessible... especially the latter if you don't happen to speak English.
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Old 09-15-2009, 02:46 PM
 
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I think that some people really aren't understanding the position that people who "can't afford" a new car seat are in.

Some of these families may already be eating ramen, beans and rice, and going without utilities for a few days just to be able to pay rent without scrounging up an extra $50 for a carseat.

Some people don't get "big" gifts from family members when we're expecting a baby, some don't even get baby showers. $50-$70 can be a weeks worth of groceries, a weeks worth of gasoline to get to and from work.

I live in an area where there really isn't a lot of help finding a free/low-cost car seat.
You can get a voucher through the courts if you're caught violating the child passenger laws, or you can get a free seat if you show up at certain car seat inspections, but neither are really easily accessible... especially the latter if you don't happen to speak English.
I see this everyday. It is so sad...Moms who don't eat so their kids can etc. They truly cannot afford car seats, so they use very old ones.

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Old 09-15-2009, 02:52 PM
 
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Well yeah, of course something is better than nothing. Putting your kid in a cardboard box and setting it on the seat is better than nothing There are gazillions of kids out there riding around in expired seats with the straps held together with duct tape, and most of them will fare pretty well in a crash. But some don't, and you shouldn't have to be forced to buy an old, nasty, expired, possibly crashed seat from a yard sale, which is why SafeKids has seats we give out.

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Old 09-15-2009, 03:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for not flaming me!

I keep thinking about that mama with the 20 year old seat. The school I work at is title 1 and has a very high hispanic population. This mom was hispanic and likely doesn't speak English. I don't know what her financial situation was... but I can see how it might be difficult for her to get a safe seat. Especially considering that I don't know her immigration status, and she may or may not be here legally.

I know there are ways to get free/low cost car seats. But having worked with a variety of families in low income/poverty situations, I can also see the many hurdles one might have to jump to get one. And if someone isn't particularly educated about carseat safety... well, it's a huge delimma.

Part of me thinks that every hospital ought to require parents to take a carseat safety course before they leave the hospital with their children. But then I wonder about the kind of costs this would create (although what is the cost of not doing it?). Plus that doesn't cover people who don't give birth in a hospital. So I don't know what the answer is... but everytime I think of that baby, I get this twisty feeling in my gut.

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Old 09-15-2009, 03:43 PM
 
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Hypothetically? No way to buy a seat or get a free one?

It depends on the age of the kid and how old the car seat is, I think.

Newborn baby, 10 year old seat? Probably better than nothing.

4 year old, 15 year old seat? No, I would choose just a seat belt over that. Hell, sticking a pillow under their butt to prop them up so the belt fits better is probably better than a 15 year old harness.

But of course, the best thing is to make free or low-cost seats more available to those who need them. I know it's not always easy for people to get a free one. Our HD is the only place in this area that does it and last month they only had 9 sceneras to give out for the whole county.
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Old 09-15-2009, 04:05 PM
 
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As someone who works specifically to distribute seats to those who 'cannot afford them' I am going to guess that maybe, MAYBE 5% of our giveaways go to truly destitute families.

Very often "Can't afford" means "Don't want to spend the money" because some people consider child restraints to be pesky things required by the law and don't truly comprehend that in an accident they are the difference between life and death.

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Old 09-15-2009, 04:16 PM
 
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As someone who works specifically to distribute seats to those who 'cannot afford them' I am going to guess that maybe, MAYBE 5% of our giveaways go to truly destitute families.

Very often "Can't afford" means "Don't want to spend the money" because some people consider child restraints to be pesky things required by the law and don't truly comprehend that in an accident they are the difference between life and death.
I agree, but it would be tough to weed out the people who truly can't afford it and the ones who just won't bother to cut back and save. Here, you just have to be broke enough to qualify for WIC. That's half the population! I think it would be great if it were income based and you were charged for basic seats on a sliding scale. Truly living in poverty? Free. Just barely qualifying for WIC based on income? Maybe $30 for a scenera or something. We could provide more seats to more families that way.
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Old 09-15-2009, 05:28 PM
 
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I'd like to see seats come with programs like Medicaid. If a child is on Medicaid, an age and size appropriate seat should be provided as part of 'routine preventative care'.

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Old 09-15-2009, 05:50 PM
 
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I'd like to see seats come with programs like Medicaid. If a child is on Medicaid, an age and size appropriate seat should be provided as part of 'routine preventative care'.
I think that is a fantastic idea! Along with that, there should be 10 minutes of basic car safety education and in-person carseat instruction.
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Old 09-15-2009, 10:26 PM
 
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I think that is a fantastic idea! Along with that, there should be 10 minutes of basic car safety education and in-person carseat instruction.
They could EASILY afford it if they would quit covering circ!!!!
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Old 09-16-2009, 12:22 AM
 
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Very often "Can't afford" means "Don't want to spend the money" because some people consider child restraints to be pesky things required by the law and don't truly comprehend that in an accident they are the difference between life and death.
Has it ever occurred to you that maybe you're not reaching a signficant part of the population in your area that is truly destitute?

I've known some truly destitute people my entire life, and the ones that have had kids are definitely NOT as stupid as you're portraying the people who "can't afford" seats seem to be.
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Old 09-16-2009, 12:26 AM
 
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something is better than nothing.
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Old 09-16-2009, 08:31 AM
 
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I'd like to see seats come with programs like Medicaid. If a child is on Medicaid, an age and size appropriate seat should be provided as part of 'routine preventative care'.
This is a fantastic idea. I'm a visiting nurse and my home care patients get things like air conditioners covered by medicaid if they have respiratory disease. Also, electric lift recliners if they have debillitating arthritis so something like this is in the realm of possibility.

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Old 09-16-2009, 01:04 PM
 
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I honestly don't know that an ancient, expired (possible recalled) seat is better than nothing.
As you all can see, in the brotax video, the harness rips out and literally garrottes the kid. that kid(if the dummy were a kid) is DEAD. D.E.A.D. Now, even if that kid were only say...2-3 years old, and sitting in a vehicle seat belt with no carseat....i don;t 8know* that they would be dead. they might be..they might have serious internal injuries from an improperky fitting seatbelt..they might have broken some bones, or even flew out of the seatbelt and out of teh car....I honestly don't know.
but waht i DO know?
The kid in the expired Briatx is DEAD, and the kid in just a seatbelt maybe has a chance? even a slim chance is beter than no chance?

so..I actually take extreme umbrage with the statement that "something is better than nothing". I don't think we can say that at ALL, with any kind of certainty.


now...I do think it depends a lot..a seat that is only a few months, maybe even a year or two expired, and not recalled for some gross defect? sure, I think that's certainly the safer choice. A really old seat you don't know anythign about you got at a garage sale, that might have been in an accident, or recalled because, say, it snaps in half durnig a crash...I can't say that that is truly safer than just a vehicle seat belt. I just can't.

*IF* I were in this situation, in this place where donated seats dont exist andt eh family is starving to death, yet has a car, but yet can't afford a seat, I think I woudl probably use the best old/used, etc infant seat for an infant and then switch to whatever old/used booster i could get my hands on, because in a crash, the booster isn't restraining teh child, the vehicle seatbelt is, and those are going to be so much more unlikely to fail than a carseat that is old and expired is.

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Old 09-16-2009, 03:49 PM
 
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Hmmm...I wonder what a crash test would look like with a 10 year old rf'ing seat. The harness rips through the ff'ing one, but in a rf'ing seat the whole seat takes the impact...it might fare better. So again, hypothetically, it might be better than nothing if the child is rf'ing, but a booster and seat belt might be better if they are big enough to ff, even if they are only 2 or 3.
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Old 09-16-2009, 03:58 PM
 
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A brand new, incorrectly used seat is just as hazardous as an expired one used correctly.

A problem that I've noticed with car seat use that seems to cross the borders of language, culture and economics is that a lot of people don't bother to actually read the manuals that comes with the car seats, thus they don't realize that it's installed incorrectly, or that the harness isn't being used right, etc.
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Old 09-16-2009, 04:08 PM
 
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This is true -- but a good CPST can fix an incorrect installation. We cannot rejuvenate seats.

Carseat-checking (CPST) and WAH mama to a twelve-year-old girl.
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Old 09-16-2009, 04:10 PM
 
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This is true -- but a good CPST can fix an incorrect installation. We cannot rejuvenate seats.
Well, maybe YOU can't, but those of us who know what they are doing seem to be able to



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Old 09-16-2009, 04:20 PM
 
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Well, maybe YOU can't, but those of us who know what they are doing seem to be able to




ya, chickabiddy, didn't you get your magical wand when you went through training? Mine's purple.

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Old 09-16-2009, 04:31 PM
 
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I think something is better than nothing in most cases.

However I am in the UK and we don't have expiry dates on carseats here as far as I can tell. Carseats don't have a "date of manufacture" or an "expiry date" on them at all. The same brands are sold here as the US. I don't understand how they are "good for life" here (apparently?) and not in the US?
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Old 09-16-2009, 05:42 PM
 
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ALL carseats have dates of manufacture. It's either stamped onto the plastic or stickered on. They all have them, and they all expire because plastic deteriorates over time.

http://www.childrestraints.co.nz/manufacture-expiry.php

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All child restraints sold in New Zealand and Australia have a life span on them and this includes seats imported from the United States, United Kingdom, China and Australia.

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Old 09-16-2009, 07:11 PM
 
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I think something is better than nothing in most cases.

However I am in the UK and we don't have expiry dates on carseats here as far as I can tell. Carseats don't have a "date of manufacture" or an "expiry date" on them at all. The same brands are sold here as the US. I don't understand how they are "good for life" here (apparently?) and not in the US?
The laws of physics should be universal : I think the difference is there is not such an emphasis on the expiration date, as in the US.

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Old 09-16-2009, 11:22 PM
 
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They could EASILY afford it if they would quit covering circ!!!!
: and formula too!

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